NBC’s Dan Patrick mentioned the day after Jeremy Pruitt was fired that he had heard Jason Witten’s name as a possible candidate for Tennessee’s vacant head coaching position. Well, Patrick was partially correct.
After retiring from the NFL following 17 seasons with the Dallas Cowboys and Las Vegas Raiders, Witten has agreed to become a high school head football coach at Liberty Christian in Argyle, Texas.
Witten passed on several NFL and major college football opportunities as an assistant coach to opt to coach at the school his children attend, according to ESPN reporter Todd Archer. He intends to sign a one-day contract with the Cowboys in March once his contract with the Raiders expires.
“Faith. Family. Football,” Witten said in a statement released by the school. “In this next chapter, it is important to me to be the best father and husband I can be, while making a positive impact in the community and share the wisdom I’ve accumulated over the years to positively impact the next generation.”
“I am very excited about Jason coming on board and joining the Liberty Christian coaching staff,” Liberty athletic director Johnny Isom said. “We have an extremely talented, hard-working group of coaches and he will undoubtedly prove to be a wonderful addition. The football program will be in great hands under his leadership and I cannot wait to see the impact that he will have on the lives of athletes.”
Witten first retired following the 2017 season and spent 2018 as ESPN’s Monday Night Football analyst, but he opted to return to football and play for the Cowboys in 2019. He spent this past season with the Raiders, the only year of his career not spent in a Dallas uniform.
No tight end in NFL history has played more games than Witten’s 271, and only Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez has more receptions and yards at the position. Witten was named to the Pro Bowl 11 times, tied for the most in Dallas history. In 2012, he was named the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year.
Witten is the Cowboys’ all-time leader in receptions (1,215) and yards (12,977) and is second in touchdown catches (72). He had four 1,000-yard seasons, and in 2012 he set the record for catches in a season by a tight end (110). He played in a team-record 255 games, including a franchise-record 245 starts, missing just one game in his career because of a broken jaw as a rookie.
The Elizabethton, Tennessee native was a third-round pick in the 2003 NFL Draft following a three-year career with the Vols. Witten left Tennessee ranked third all-time among the school’s tight ends with 68 career receptions and fourth all-time with 797 receiving yards. He caught seven touchdown passes.